12.20.2022 / Statement
Families USA’s Isasi: We must ensure that omnibus health care provisions help, not hurt families
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Families USA Executive Director Frederick Isasi issued the following statement today on the health care provisions included in the end-of-year omnibus package:
“The end of the year spending bill unveiled this morning makes key investments in health and health care for children and families. However, we haven’t seen the legislative scorekeeping. As we understand it and at the insistence of Republican negotiators, Medicaid dollars are being taken away from vulnerable families to reduce federal spending. Once we see the score, we’ll know if this is correct and by how much. We all know that Medicaid dollars are scarce, and we shouldn’t reduce federal spending off the backs of working families’ health at the same time that wealthy corporations get tax break after tax break.
“Despite uncertainty about how much support for Medicaid is cut, there are important wins for families in this legislation. At a time when children’s health continues to be put to the test — we applaud Congress for taking action to ensure that children who rely on Medicaid and CHIP for their health care have a guarantee of 12-months of continuous coverage no matter where they live. Importantly, this bill eliminates bureaucratic hurdles that cause children to erroneously become uninsured and will prevent needless coverage gaps for eligible low-income kids. This is an important victory for children’s health.
“We also commend Congress for taking action to improve postpartum coverage for low-income women who rely on Medicaid for their health care. No new mom should lack access to critical, life-saving care in the 12-month period following the birth of a baby. The permanent state option in this legislation is welcome progress, but it falls short of ensuring this coverage for moms in every state and we will keep fighting for legislation that ensures all moms have access to a full year of essential postpartum care no matter where they live.
“We appreciate the inclusion of a two-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That said, it is past time for Congress to make CHIP permanent. Despite a 25-year record of success and consistent bipartisan support, CHIP remains the only federal health program that faces periodic reauthorization, twice causing it to expire with devastating coverage disruptions. Permanent CHIP would stabilize state programs and provide families peace of mind that their coverage will never again be interrupted due to political gamesmanship.
“The bill re-authorizes and increases funding for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) – a critical, evidence-based step to improving lifelong health for vulnerable children. It also provides the U.S. territories with five years of essential funding to prevent looming interruptions in care. And it makes significant investments into the mental health workforce and improves behavioral health benefits in Medicare.
“The bill provides a clear pathway for states resuming Medicaid eligibility redeterminations, one that outlines specific responsibilities and ensures accountability. States have been calling for certainty about when the maintenance of effort provisions would end in order to better plan for the resumption of eligibility redeterminations. Now that they have a specific date and additional federal funding to support these plans, they have a responsibility to protect families’ health and financial well-being and the coverage gains made during the pandemic by faithfully implementing these guardrails. Keeping eligible people connected to Medicaid and seamlessly transitioning those who are no longer eligible to new sources of coverage is of the utmost importance. Families across this nation should not lose access to health insurance because of a state’s paperwork requirements.”
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Families USA, a leading national voice for health care consumers, is dedicated to the achievement of high quality, affordable health care and improved health for all